2013-2014 Volkl Shiro

Ski: 2013-2014 Volkl Shiro, 183cm

Dimensions (mm): 151-119-135

Turn Radius: 26.4 meters

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.0 cm

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Supercharger Ignition / Marker Jester (DIN) 12

Mount Location: recommended

Test Location: Niseko, Japan

Days Skied: 3

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Shiro, which was not changed for 13/14, except for the graphics.]

Andrew Gregovich on the Volkl Shiro, Niseko Japan.
2012-2013 Volkl Shiro

With the addition of the Shiro for the 2011-2012 season, Volkl added a new dimension to their Freeski lineup. Since its inception, the Shiro has been a hit with both weekend warriors and Volkl team riders alike, and as a result, returns unchanged for 2012-2013 except for a new graphic.

This ski is meant to bridge a gap between the versatile Gotama and the enormous Kuro, which is designed for “phat powder turns.” (No, really, that’s what Volkl’s website says.) I think the Shiro does a good job of fulfilling this purpose, offering a nice blend of versatility and powder performance.

My first run on the Shiro I found myself in the tightest trees the Super area at Grand Hirafu had to offer. In these close quarters, the Shiro was very intuitive and easy to handle. Feeling confident in the foot of sparsely tracked snow, I quickly accelerated to speeds that I hadn’t felt comfortable reaching on the Blizzard GunSmoke or the Line Influence 115.

Andrew Gregovich, 2013 Volkl Shiro, Niseko Japan.
Andrew Gregovich, Super area, Niseko Grand Hirafu.

Carrying speed out of the trees into a wide open bowl, I was pleasantly surprised by the Shiro’s performance. I was able to rip turns comfortably through the moderate chop in this area. Large splay and carbon fiber in the core gave the Shiro a snappy yet smooth and predictable feel from edge to edge in this snow.

The Shiro provided a comfortable ride on consistent, firm off-piste trails and groomers, producing this same smooth, snappy sensation. Both in chop and on firmer snow it was easy to slash and quickly get back on edge.

Quick turns were fun in cut-up conditions, but I wanted to see how the Shiro handled a little additional speed. I picked a direct route down one of the steeper fall lines in Mizuno no Sawa for the test.

After opening up my first couple of turns off the top, I wasn’t inspired to point it down the rest of the face. I felt rock solid when engaged in Slalom- and GS-length turns, but it felt like I was getting knocked around a bit when I was going straight. As the chop got firmer and the ruts became deeper, I definitely felt the need to make more turns in order to stay in control. I couldn’t rail in this snow as well as I was able to on the Blizzard Bodacious (no great surprise), or even on the more comparable Blizzard GunSmoke.

I also wasn’t able to rage down chopped up, late-day groomers. The Shiro had a hard time getting a solid edge on the icy patches and got bucked around by the cut-up mounds of snow that separated these patches. Skiing with bases flat and straight-lining didn’t feel comfortable either; I just had to take it slower in these conditions.

In wind-blown, variable-density powder, I felt the Shiro working against me at times. It took a little while to find the right balance point in this snow, as I was feeling the skis pitch forward and back like a boat pointed into an ocean swell. The tips would dive a little as I hit denser patches, forcing me to shift my weight back slightly; then, as soon as I broke into lighter snow, I would feel myself slowly rolling back onto my tails.

Rocking back and forth prevented the ski from optimally floating through the snow and slowed me down. This was particularly frustrating when cruising through low-angle glades. I eventually settled into a balanced, centered stance trying to anticipate these transitions. Working with the ski’s finicky tendencies, I was able to float fine.

34 comments on “2013-2014 Volkl Shiro”

  1. I would be interested to know what you thought of the difference between the bent chetler, ak jj, shiro, and squad 7. Which is best for pow skiing?

    • Unfortunately I have not taken more than a few runs on any of those skis except the Shiro, so I can only recommend that you consult this review and our reviews of the AK JJ and squad 7.

    • Spencer, I’ve spent time on all of these skis, so I’ll take a stab at your questions. For pure pow skiing, these are all 5 stars, and it really comes down to personal preference and style more than anything. The Bent Chetler and AK JJ are the more playful skis, the Shiro and Squad are more directional, less center mounted.

      Personally, if I was going to be skiing deep untracked all day, I’d take the AK JJ. The 183 Ben Chetler and 183 Shiro are a bit short for me, but I think I’d be really happy on the 192 and 193 versions of those skis.

      But if I also needed this ski to do well in tracked out, chopped up conditions, I’d take the Squad 7.

  2. Seeing a lot of talk about the Shiro of late and not much about the 12/13 Katana. Does this mean that the Katana is not coming back or perhaps staying the same for next year?

      • Awesome thanks. One more katana question. How much stiffer is the ‘athlete’ flex than the ‘human’ flex. I ski a 2010 mantra (no rocker) in a 184 which i love as a daily driver. Looking at the katana for a big mountain ski (i.e. jackson trips with 20% OB) that can still slash trees and tight spots like my mantra. I’m 6’1″ and 195, been skiing since I could walk. Can’t decide 183 vs 190. Leaning toward 190 figuring it would ski shorter due to the full rocker, but the hint of a pro level stiffness has me a little spooked. Any suggestion?

        • Hi John,

          I can tell you the 191 Katana is seriously stiff (especially through the tail), though I have not skied the 184. One of the most impressive characteristics of the 191 is that it doesn’t act like a complete 2×4 at low speed (though it still feels like a big ski). The super gradual rocker profile you’ve mentioned makes the Katana surprisingly forgiving in tighter spots, but it certainly can stand up to a “Pro level” of riding. Ian McIntosh helped design the ski, which makes a lot of sense when you open things up on it.

          If lots of trees and moguls are in the picture, I personally wouldn’t take the 191 as an everyday ski for in-bounds riding. However, I’m a scrawny 6’2″, 160lbs. For a strong skier of your height and weight looking for a big mountain board that can stand to make the occasional venture into tighter terrain, I think the 191 fits the bill well (especially if you have your Mantras to grab for those hardpack/bump days).

          If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to take a look at my review of the 191. I put some time on the ski in the wide open terrain of Las Lenas and later the tighter chutes and trees at Taos.

          Hope this helps you out,

          Will B

          • Will B, thanks for the reply. Exactly the feedback I was looking for. Great site – best ski review forum I’ve seen. Picked up my 191’s yesterday – can’t wait to slay it.

  3. John M – if you can’t demo then I’d wager the athlete flex is a little bit of marketing hype. At your weight and height you’ll easily be able to drive the 190. I’m 155lbs and 5 foot 10 and the 183 would be perfect for me for the use you describe – I cannot imagine a taller and heavier gentlemen on the 183.

    Pics of the new 2013 Katana here: http://www.ski-review.com/ski_news/article/volkl_ski_2013/

  4. Oh and one more thing – any reason why you are not considering the Gotama instead of the Mantra in the 186 if the 194 is too much ski?

  5. The Shiro absolutely shreds on groomers which I think for some is it’s absolute best quality and the reason folks should give it a try. Not all of us are sending it off 50 footers and landing them switch…some of us just don’t want to blow another knee in windblown chop or crud and want to not have an “epic” journey from the bottom of our pow stash back to the lift. I have skied the Rocker 2, Obsethed, and the Super 7 and none of them remind me of my Rossi race skis except the Shiro…their rocker system really throws down some insane edges which I find hard to believe with the Shiro at 119 underfoot. I ski 60 days a year and more often than not they are in more “variable” conditions not pure pow plays. I want something that is a crud killer first and a pow ski second…I think the Shiro is this in spades!

  6. I’m hearing the Shiro needs to be mounted in a forward position, 2 or 3 cm of the mark and some of the women are going 3 to 5 cm forward, and the whole pitch thing disappears.

  7. I rented the 194cm Shiros last year for a day at Snowbird in variable conditions and fell in love with them (I have since purchased the 2012-2013 193cm Shiros). I haven’t mounted bindings on them yet, because I am questioning mounting them +2 or even +3 from the mounting point. I plan on mounting Rossi FKS 180s with MFD ALLTIME plates on them, so I am hopeful that this setup won’t affect the ski flex too much (Joe Augusten’s MFD review sold me on the MFD). As I am 6’5″ and 235lbs, would mounting at +2 or +3 be of benefit to me on the Shiros?

    • Hi Cole,

      Yes, I think that mounting the binding at +2 or +3 would be a good idea. I would have preferred that mount position on the Shiro and I know that many of Volkl’s athletes prefer a more forward position as well.


  8. Well, I skied them at Alyeska all last season at +2 and love them, they float, they slash, they carve,. In really deep pow you’ll need expert skills to whip them around because they are a bit heavy. However, the benefits of the unexpected stability of the plank jusst amaze me endlessly. I must admit, I skied some solamon lords on icey packed groomers and that was a BLAST !!!, but overall, unless your into some pretty air drops n’stuff, this ski is a purist big mountain monster. WOO hOO

  9. Lots of people write about mounting Shiros at +2 or +3 because they saw some pros do it. These pros ski differently than 99% of people who buy these skis. Watch their videos on YouTube and you will see they make many jumps and acrobatic tricks in the air, land and ski backwards. For that kind of Park & Pipe type of skiing you need the skis to be balanced and mounted at or near their center of gravity. I really question the +2 or +3 forward mount for normal downhill skiing in powder conditions. I bought the Shiros and am about to mount them. I may mount them at the manufacturer recommended line because I am not going to be jumping and spinning in the air or skiing backwards. I just want good powder skis. Another thing is when you ski in powder, the deep snow slows the ski suddenly and you need the extra length in front of you, or you will fall “over the handles”. Please tell me if I am wrong in my reasoning as I need to decide where to mount my Shiros. Im 165lb/75kg, 5’10″/177cm and my Shiros are 183cm. I also own Volkl RTM 84 176cm for hard pack conditions. Tell me where should I mount my Shiros:) Is it really that good to have them mounted +2 if you are going to simply ski powder downhill without jumps and tricks or skiing backwards? Which is what most people do anyway unless they want to risk being driven out from the ski resort in an ambulance and never ski again or end up in a wheelchair with a broken spine. I ski about 30 or more days per season and I see the ambulance every time im in different ski resorts.

  10. I have been doing a lot of research and have read about the same number of people that are happy with Vokl Shiro mount at 0 position as those that think about mouting them at +2 and +3. Im not sure why I should think that the Volkl engineers (German engineers) are wrong and mount my skis at +2/+3 because some teen kids saw what another pro kid did (one that jumps and spins in the air) and wrote about it in a few forums. Somebody please prove me wrong. I am about to drill. Thanks.

    I have also read that for true powder skiing you want your boot center be far back from the ski centerline and that makes sense because you don’t want to fall “over the handles” when charging through variable depth powder snow. These are powder skis so why should I want to make them good for jumps and tricks if all I want is to have good powder skis.

    • Jerome,

      Sorry for the late response. I have been in the field and away from internet for the last week. Let me clear a few things up.

      I do not suggest mounting the ski forward of the recommended line simply because, “I saw some pro do it”. That’s not what we do here.

      I parenthetically site some of Volkl’s skiers preferred mount positions in order to demonstrate that these people, who have had much more time on the Shiro than me, independently came to the same conclusion that they prefer a mount position of +2 or +3.

      I prefer to ski with an upright, centered stance. With the recommended mount position I had to adopt a more aggressive stance in order to get over the center of the ski. With a forward mount, I would be able to ski how I naturally prefer to. While this is personal preference, I also believe that many other skiers will prefer this position as well since a continuously rockered ski like the Shiro demands a more centered stance than a ski with traditionally camber.

      The Shiro’s rocker profile allows you to mount forward without worrying about tip dive. The forward mount also makes the tail longer, providing more support when you get bucked into the backseat.

      Hope that helps,


  11. Jerome,
    I can only speak for my experience, but I am pretty satisfied with the mount location on my 194 Shiros (+3). I agree, powder skiing is different from piste skiing in regards to how balanced fore-aft you are over the ski. I like that with the forward mount position, I have more ski length to work with when I do need to get in the backseat in powder. But the idea that you need to lean back on the ski while skiing powder only applied to the old straight skis. With today’s powder skis, you have to ski balanced and centered or else you don’t have the control that you are expecting with them. I would hold off and wait for Andrew to chime in on this. You don’t need to drill immediately, unless you’re headed to Chile or New Zealand tomorrow.

  12. Thanks Cole. I will wait and do some more research. I am advanced on-piste, but powder skiing is new to me. From what I see, with on-piste skiing you lean forward more than when you ski powder. So in powder skiing your center of gravity is moved back. That would justify having some extra tail. I will only be skiing powder in Shiros. I still don’t understand why Volkl engineers would mark the boot center incorrectly in the second season of the same ski, unless it was meant as a starting point for adjustable marker schizo bindings. Maybe they were careless about it.

  13. I had a love hate relationship with the Shiro in 183. Although I am happy with the Mantra and Katana in 184, either the additional rocker of softer flex of the Shiro made them ski much shorter than my other Volkls. I also had a severe “folding” issue with this ski when I tried to let it run over crud, just like Andrew did. I didn’t expect it to ski like the Katana or 190 Bibby I have/had in my quiver but I wish it held up a little bit when going straight over even the softest variable conditions.

    My question is, does the 193 mounted forward really allow the ski to maintain the quick feel the 183 has for such a fat ski, while improving its performance at speed? I’d rather avoid a 190+ ski in a resort or if I want to dip into some trees. Otherwise, I found the Shiro super reliable and versatile if not for the front end folding and really would like to make this ski work for me. It is a blast on soft groomers and has an intuitive feel for me that not all fat skis do (i.e. the Cochise which I hated on firm conditions, to pivoty for me.) It is also nice to have a ski that is an easier ride then the Katana in east cost trees or in a western resort. However, the Katana continues to be my go to ski.

    The only other ski that felt as easy and automatic for me in soft conditions have been the 184 Katana and the OG 186 Prophet 100 back when that was a fat ski. (The short turning radius was a little much but I really enjoyed the ski.)

    I wish the answer was that Volkl was coming out with a 187 Shiro, a la Moment with the Belafonte. Since that’s not happening, do I go 193 or do I look elsewhere? Maybe the new Scott Punisher?

    • AK,
      I haven’t spent time on the 183 Shiro, but a lot of people are chiming in that the 193 Shiro is the ideal length for this ski. My 193cm Shiro’s are mounted at +3 and they have an incredibly lively and quick feel to them. (Disclaimer: I’m a 6’5″, 235 lbs rugby/water polo player who skis very aggressively). I won’t take them into tight trees because I move too quickly to avoid the trees (I won’t ski in tight trees period), but for a smaller person, they easily move through trees in a manner that you would find acceptable. The 193 has great performance at high speed regardless of the conditions. Again, my size changes how I ski through variable conditions (through, rather than over the chopped up snow), but I suspect that you will find the 193 a better fit than the 183.

  14. thomas,
    I went with the 193 Shiro because of the turning radius. There aren’t a lot of wide open bowls where I routinely ski in NM, so I needed the ski to have a tighter turning radius, but still have great performance in deep pow.

    • No. In fact, we have yet to ski the 193. That’s the length we were supposed to take to Japan, but we were mistakenly sent the 183, which, to me, felt way too short. The fact that (tiny little) Julia loves the 183 is telling. I’m personally still more interested in the 193 than the 203, mostly because I think the swing weight of the 203 is going to feel pretty significant. But that’s pure speculation.

  15. Just picked up a pair of the 193 Shiros and I’m seriously questioning the mounting location. I plan to ski the Shiros primarily in powder but like everyone else, I will also likely see a lot of time on afternoon chopped up crud, in the trees, and on other variable conditions. I’m 6’2″ and 225lbs. I would consider myself an aggressive skier that enjoys jumping off smaller natural features (I wont be hucking any 50 footers anytime soon). I like to ski with a more upright stance so Volkls recommended mounting position seems a little far back for me. Anyway, my question is which mounting location would be best for me? Right now I’m leaning towards +2… any thoughts?

    • Kris,
      The consensus amongst all of the commenters is +2 or +3 for the optimal mounting location on the Shiro. I went with +3, but do whatever feels comfortable for you.

  16. I wanted to add some perspective based on my experience with the 183 Shiro over about a year in a variety of conditions, east and west coast. I am 6’1″ 200 and in my early 30s. Ex-racer, like to ski fast, blah blah . . .

    In short, I don’t disagree with any of the shortcomings identified in the original review, but still think the Shiro is an amazing, capable and versatile ski. It can be carved like a fat race ski and doesn’t need to be skied from a centered stance on groomers, but taking a centered playful approach in choppy conditions improves the skis performance an awful lot and removes what I see as one of the few shortcomings of the 183.

    I will start by expanding on/adding my take on some of the negatives identified above. First, the Shiro does ski short. No question about that. Being an east coast skier, I can appreciate what a 19x length ski brings to the table but won’t be caught dead on one at home. Therefore, I have the Mantra in 184 and the Katana in the same length. The 183 Shiro skis noticeably shorter than either of these Volkls in nearly the same stated length. With that short length comes a lack of “chargeability” and also some of the “folding” that was described in the original review in denser consolidated powder. I noticed this particularly on a pow day at Snowbird when I had been skiing on 190 Bibby Pro previously. The snow was dense and heavy and I felt pronounced folding when trying to attack this type of snow they way I would on the Bibby. I couldn’t cure the issue completely that particular day, but a change in approach to a more centered stance did help significantly. That’s the bad news, but for me that is where the negatives end with this ski.

    The Shiros are a TON of fun on all but the firmest groomers, not fun for a big ski, just fun in general. They were more than suitable on a few deep days I was lucky enough to get on them when the snow was light, not the dense pow I experienced on the day at Snowbird mentioned above. I also have never found a ski that I enjoy more in spring conditions. They absolutely slay spring corn, slop and bumps. The also have a nice swingweight and fairly light feel which makes them fun for small playful jumping around.

    I am particularly fond of the 183 Shiro in trees and bumps, and since in the east a pow day really means skiing trees and bumps, that’s a huge plus for me. The amount of fun I have skiing the 183 Shiro in the trees relative to the 184 Katana is huge, and frankly the Katana is a pretty maneuverable and capable ski in these conditions too. In addition to the length being a benefit, the flex pattern on the Shiro is really dialed. It isn’t a noodly powder ski, but offers worlds more forgiveness than the Katana and is much much easier to flex at slower speeds. The flex pattern is also appreciated on shallow to moderate chop soft, which the Shiro can charge just as well as the Katana. Super variable conditions or firm chop still go to the Katana in a landslide.

    All in all after what is now a full season on this ski, I am extremely happy to have the 183 Shiro in my quiver. It isn’t the chargy “comp” ski that Katana is and I still feel like there is an opening in my quiver for a true west coast deep day pow ski (the 193 might work for this), but it has become the reliable compliment to my Mantras on soft east coast days when I know I will be skiing fast groomers and tight trees all in the same run.

    • Great review. Thanks for the info. Just got a pair of 193 Shiros after my experience on 186 Gotamas on Presidents Day at Snowbird. Weekend storm total was ~35” and the snow wasn’t particularly light (for the Wasatch resorts). By Presidents Day, Snowbird was well tracked, but there were still some fairly fresh stashes. At 6’2”, 225, the Gotamas just didn’t give me enough float. Tips kept diving.

      In loose snow, I tend to ski “in the snow” with shorter, bouncy turns instead of flying over the snow with large, high speed turns. The Gotamas have been my daily driver for several years and been fantastic on most terrain for the typical range of Wasatch conditions. Couldn’t stay on top of the snow on Presidents Day, however. As “The Bird” tends to get tracked up quickly, I wanted a ski with more float for deeper/heavier powder days that will still perform on piste after the Cirque and Little Cloud have been devasted by the hordes.

      Was really glad to read about your experience in spring snow. That is one the main factors that keeps me on Gotamas late into the season. I do miss the snap and bounce of cambered skis on hardpack, but the surfy feel and effortless turn initiation of the full rocker in soft snow keeps me reaching for the Gotamas, particularly as I get older (46 this year).

      • Update: I’ve now skied the Shiro

        Since Volkl has retired the Shiro, this review is, perhaps, one for the archives. But I’ll try to keep it relevant with comparisons to the last full rocker version of the Mantra 17/18 (closer to rocker-flat-rocker), the beloved Gotama and it’s replacement, the 100eight.

        Preliminaries on the Shiros I skied:
        – 193cm
        – bindings mounted at +1.5
        – spring conditions at Snowbird, a bit icey at the top, sugar at the bottom, a bit of both at mid-mountain.

        Interesting ski, not what I expected. I bought them for deep powder days but have only had the opportunity to ski them on spring-time groomers. After reading numerous reviews touting the Shiro’s on-piste capabilities, I was expecting something a bit more nimble and a bit more versatile. Volkl’s full rocker and its ability let wide skis go edge to edge quickly, initiate turns quickly has limits, apparently. I know, I know – what was I expecting from a powder ski 119mm under foot?

        Reviews highlighting the Shiro’s stability, edge hold, versatility, shaping and carving prowess aren’t wrong. It just felt like it does all those things in slow motion compared to the Mantra, Gotama, and 100eights (“108s”). I skied the 108s on the same day I skied the Shiros – absolutely huge, gigantic, and enormous difference in how they feel. They should feel different, but I’ve read so many reviews praising the Shiro for its on-piste performance, I was expecting its on-piste performance to align a bit closer to an on-piste ski.

        By comparison, the 108s felt like a nimble and precise, slashing, race ski – except when I wanted to smear or surf or whatever, all of which it did competently with snap and vigor in changing snow conditions from peak to base (not as surfy and not as fun to smear as the Gotoma, but still impressively versatile). Again, I know, what was I expecting from the Shiros?

        AK’s review above says the Shiro isn’t fun for a big ski, it’s just fun. For me, it was just fun for a big ski. I definitely agree, though, that the performance picks up somewhat dramatically when skiing it from a centered position – much easier to get it on edge and from edge to edge. And maybe that was my problem. My stance tends to stay pretty aggressively forward. Or maybe I need to spend more time on skis in this category, having spent the last several years on Gotamas (106mm/186cm) as my daily driver, with the Mantra (100mm/184cm) as my backup. Or maybe it’s because I do most of my skiing at under 35mph (that’s an actual measurement) and make medium to short radius turns. But the Shiro felt big and heavy. First pair of Volkls I’ve skied where calling them “boards” really seemed fitting.

        Not to get too Zen, here, but I normally feel like my skis are an extension of me. The effortless turn initiation of the other Volkl models I’ve been skiing for years is a big part of that. I don’t have to think much about what the skis are doing. I just ski. Not so with the Shiros.

        This probably isn’t a fair review. The Shiros are a powder ski that can be driven fairly hard and fast on piste with big, sweeping turns. The bottom line for me is that I don’t think my style of skiing works with this ski on piste. I’m looking forward to getting them out again if the weather produces one of its epic, late-spring Wasatch dumps. Until then, the 108s have quickly become my new favorites. No learning curve, just extremely fun.

  17. Wow! Awesome reviews and comments. Thank you everyone.

    I’m a pro patroller that has to change out my quiver this year coming from drier resorts in the Rockies (soft pow) to the Sierra Cement, moving from recreational skiing with family and into skiing where required (usually the worst conditions) and having to go from playing on the slopes to working and being responsible while skiing. Used my 177 Kendos and my first few days in the mashed potatoes and felt pronounced diving to include headers over the handlebars on flat light dips. Thought I wanted Mantras in a slightly longer length to cover the “softer” stuff (read: mashed potatoes). Picked up some Shiro 183’s expecting to use them for the chop and pow with a “bald tire” feel on groomers. I was totally surprised at how well the Shiro holds and edge!

    Comment on the mounting position, wonder if boot angle makes a difference too? I set my new boots (old boots were racing angles) at 17 degrees forward lean so my “center” is actually slightly forward (helpful for one who has no ACL, PCL among others).

    Now wondering if I need to get rid of my Kendo’s at all or replace them with a Volkl 100Eight (since I’m impressed with wider ski’s edge hold), 90Eight or Mantras for the harder groomers and loaded sled work. I’m can make about anything work on the firm stuff (did a lot of east coast patrolling with racing skis) but need a crutch for the Sierra Mashed Potatoes. Input would be appreciated before keeping the Kendo’s (88;s), pulling the trigger on 108’s or 98’s. Thanks again for all your expertise on this site.

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